Mrs X is one of the essentials of dance music. Famous for his weird and wonderful DJ sets and pioneering label Kaizen, Crissi Vassilakis started MDMXERCISE spontaneously locked out after friend requests to reveal his exercise regimen. After expanding her hobby, 2022 finds the DJ combining her two loves, the dancefloor and fitness, through a new line of clothing with Luke Menikmati.
Clash spoke to Madame X about the new line, sticking to her exercise regimen since touring resumed, advice for people on the go and continuing her “mission to marry wellness, fitness and the music”.
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Hi Crissi. How has 2022 treated you?
Big thanks! I finally feel like things are back to normal. So happy to play again.
How did you manage to readapt to the touring lifestyle? Have you noticed any changes after the pandemic?
I think everyone is just super grateful to be back. Not being able to DJ for so long really kinda killed my soul. I think at least I’ve become incredibly grateful for the work and I don’t want to take anything for granted. There’s something so nourishing about being able to express yourself through music and depriving yourself of it for two years, it was difficult to say the least. Every gig has been so rewarding and I couldn’t be happier to be back doing what I love.
You recently unveiled your clothing line with Luke Menikmati. How did it happen?
I have religiously worked with Luke over the years in all areas of KAIZEN and fashion, and each time he goes above and beyond to bring my wacky ideas to fruition. He is an absolute visionary and a pleasure to work with. We were initially talking about creating resistance bands, but the conversation quickly escalated and a year and a half later we had a full line of MDMXERCISE apparel!
What are some of the line’s fashion inspirations and touchstones?
I really wanted to honor my Greek heritage by paying homage to my ancient ancestors, warriors and divine beings and blending them with the core aesthetic of Menikmati’s “Gothic Futurism”. It’s kind of Matrix meets Goddess Athena, meets alien skinwear, designed to make you feel like an absolute badass when you put it on. It is multifunctional, with black rubberized latex textures for better grip, suitable for delirium, fitness and movement.
All of the patterns and textures in the garment prints are drawn from ancient Greek pottery design and stencil silhouettes, and the circular shapes and spheres represent the planetary movements and ellipses of the sun.
You started MDMXERCISE in confinement. Was it a spontaneous idea or something you had been planning for a while?
Totally spontaneous. It was born out of boredom and the desire to connect with people while my sister and I were hiding in the Greek mountains. Loads of people were asking me how I stayed so active during lockdown and what my workout routines were, so I just put a poll on my Instagram to see who would be keen to workout with me on Zoom, and the rest was history!
I never thought we would launch a full fitness community, but it was such a positive thing to take from the craziness of the last two years.
I went through some old interviews you did before this and found a quote about the care taken with quality on your label. Did you approach the clothing line in the same way? Totally. It was extremely important to me to create fitness apparel that could stand the test of time. It’s the worst thing when you buy a cheap pair of leggings that lose their support and elasticity after a few washes. I wanted something high quality, unique and stylistically stunning.
I wanted people to put on the clothes and feel empowered by them. As if they were donning armor or a power-ranger suit that allowed them to unleash their inner warriors and move their bodies without judgment or doubt.
I literally see these pieces as superhero costumes.
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There have been conversations about mental health in dance music over the past two years, which is really positive. Do you think discussions about physical health (and a greater focus on health in general) will follow?
I would like to see more. I don’t think we talk enough about the effects touring can have on your mind and body. Late nights, early mornings, time zones, all planes, etc. – it is difficult to find balance and stay grounded.
I think dance is such a positive form of movement and there’s a real negative stigma around club culture that’s synonymous with drug addiction and unhealthy habits. However, there are actually an abundance of parties and communities that encourage sober binge like “Morning Gloryville”, “Ecstatic Dance”, “5 Rhythms”, etc., that bring this notion of mindful clubbing to the fore. I would love to see clubbing and dance music celebrated in a more positive way, so we can dispel these ideas that clubs are bad and DJs are messy.
I refuse to believe that the music I play can only exist with alcohol. I want to pursue my mission of combining well-being, fitness and music.
How has the lockdown affected you, both creatively and physically?
I definitely threw myself into my fitness. It was super hard not being able to DJ, tour and practice my art, so diving into my exercise was my escape. The endorphins you get from moving your body and exercising were my saving grace!
I guess on the creative spectrum, what my sister and I were developing with the exercise classes and routines allowed me to practice that part of my brain. I’m never one to sit still, so I naturally threw myself into what gave me immediate relief and comfort during lockdown. Therefore – MDMXERCISE!
And have you followed your fitness program now that you’re back on tour?
Deffo, it’s part of my lifestyle. Even if it’s just a bit of movement or yoga in a hotel room, I use the exercise to relax and give myself some time. It’s also the perfect opportunity to listen to new mixes and music. My diet isn’t as gym-focused as it was during lockdown. I mix it up a bit now with Yoga and Pilates. I think it’s good to have a balanced routine, to mix things up, and to honor where your brain and body are in the present.
Do you have any fitness tips for those like you who are on the go a lot and don’t have much time?
Pack resistance bands. They are so light and easy to carry and you can do a really good workout with them. They saved me during confinement. You can replicate many of the strength moves you do in the gym using your own body weight with these resistance bands. Don’t let their simple appearance fool you!
What are your projects, both musical and sporting, in 2022? What can we expect?
Many to come! I’m back touring the US in June-July, which I’m super excited for, and in addition to releasing the clothing line, I’m looking to take MDMXERCISE live, offering IRL classes. Stage takeovers at festivals, more collaborations with DJs and the general spread of positive vibes.
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Madam X plays Queen’s Yard Summer Party on May 1, 2022 and Outlook Festival UK from June 30 to July 3, 2022.
Words: Lee Wakefield
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